In 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission regarded the Marshall Islands as “by far the most contaminated place in the world”.
The island of Elugelab in the Enewetak atoll was destroyed when the the first U.S. hydrogen bomb was tested.
Nuclear claims between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands are ongoing, and health effects from these nuclear tests linger.
The world’s first nuclear-free constitution
In 1981, Palau voted for the world’s first nuclear-free constitution. The use, storage, and disposal of nuclear, toxic chemical, gas, and biological weapons was banned and a referendum held, which did not get the required 3/4 majority.
Transition to independence
This ban held up Palau’s transition to ‘independence’ because the United States insisted on the option to operate nuclear propelled vessels and store nuclear weapons within the territory.
After several referendums failed to achieve a 3/4 majority, the people of Palau finally approved the compact with the U.S. in 1994.
Their freedom of action is limited by their reliance on American funding. As a Micronesion blogger wrote with reference to UN voting patterns:
The United States is the principal benefactor of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. It does not make good sense to “bite the hand that feeds you,” so to speak. It seems logical that all three nations vote in favor of Israel in the United Nations so that they do not upset their benefactor. Simple as that.
Tests of this missile have continued in the area ever since. The latest was carried out in June 2010
With thanks to the Moseley reader who introduced this subject.
Extract from the Huffington Post – a computer generated link:
A scientist in a previously secret transcript of a meeting where they decided to return the Rongelap people to their atoll, stated an island contaminated by the 1954 H-Bomb tests was ” by far the most contaminated place in the world.” He further concluded that, “it would very interesting to go back and get good environmental data… so as to get a measure of the human uptake, when people live in a contaminated environment…Now, data of this type has never been available. …While it is true that these people do not live, I would say, the way Westerners so, civilized people, it is nevertheless also true that they are more like us than the mice. “
The writer, Robert Alvarez, is an Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar who served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999.